someday ill be in company of all....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: East Lynne by Ellen Wood

Title:East Lynne
Author: Ellen Wood
Source: Online
Rating: 4 out of 5

Buy East Lynne from
Buy East Lynne from

When the aristocratic Lady Isabel abandons her husband and children for her wicked seducer, more is at stake than moral retribution.

The novel opens up in a beautiful village in a haughty old mansion where William Vane is caught up in debts so much that he is forced to sell the same..Archibald Carlyle is the buyer, lets him live in it but he dies ridden with grief and mental trauma....His only beautiful daughter Lady Isabel is the protagonist of the novel who is left by herself, she is proposed by the well mannered, well respected Carlyle , meanwhile is attracted to the charming rake Francis Levison , but eventually accepts the marriage offer of Carlyle expecting to fall in love with him...Initially the life seems happy and steady and they also have children together but with Carlyle's older sisters  Cornelia Carlyle entry things start falling apart..She interferes in the household decisions leaving Isabel no space, she also takes things in her hand as the head of the family,demeaning Isabel's position...To make things worse she is left all by herself in a sea side house to recover from ill health..But there as an unexpected event, the utterly attractive Levision re-enters in her life alluring her and  fateful coincidences make it appear as though her much devoted husband having an affair with Barbara Hare, while the reality is that Carlyle is helping Barbara's innocent brother Richard get away from murder ...In haste Isabel  abandons her husband and children for Levison..Oh yes a bad decision , which she eventually realizes but is unable to do a thing ..True to a rake Levision deserts Isabel unmarried with a child...Ridden over by remorse and regret  she decides to get back to her children..Again fate plays in her life she is exposed to a train accident in which her child and her assistant die, her face is disfigured while her identity is mixed up, Lady Isabel is reported dead..In a false identity she returns her home to her children to find Barbara Hare as Carlyle's wife and the mother of her children..Isabel takes up the job of a governess, now she has to go by Carlyle's words as orders as a maid address her children as her master and miss..Things unfold in her home where she lived all her life with her father and later with her husband and children in a different way..To her everything remains the same with a difference that someone else is playing her role and she is completely helpless of it...  She has no one to blame about it but her self..Joyce one of the maid discovers  the eyes behind the glasses and the real face layered inside the now disfigured one and predictably she never reveals it to anyone..None realizes the truth until her last breath...What would Carlyle do well read on..

Debts, death, illness are found throughout the book as a matter of fact..The novel looks closely into the life of a woman falling into disgrace...The book holds the Victorian essence in a different cocktail version. Melodrama, murder, mystery makes it a good choice for a sensational novel...Isabel's character has both its share of depth and shallowness...Barbara hare who is clearly in love with Carlyle by the twist of fate find her love in him as Isabel leaves ...Carlyle though kind hearted and hard working somehow fails to care for his wife Isabel somehow fails to makes his mark at many place.. Cornelia is aptly placed with her share of wickedness and jealousy while Levison catalyses Lady Isabel's downfall finally abandoning her...

Wood has written a story where the characters and the story has layers and best suitable for a lengthy conversation with friends...One can discuss in length about  the social environment of Victorian period regarding  bigamy, divorce, deceit, wealth, health and malady in general... The plot is highly engaging but you may not be impressed with Wood's style of writing... If you are romantic about the Victorian writing East Lynne is a wonderful choice that stands different from the otherwise best work of those period..

1 comment:

  1. I agree VB, this sounds like a really interesting story ripe for conversation.

    I had heard that for years only censored versions of this book were available as some of it's language were considered shocking to readers in the past.


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